Sunshine after the Rain

fresh leaves1+

 

I married an incredible man two weeks ago. It was one of the happiest days of my life.

In a letter to him on our wedding day, I told him that he was the answer to my deepest prayers and better than my wildest dreams.

I’m still feeling euphoric. I can’t believe that this is my life. I keep thinking I’ll wake up to find it’s all been a dream.

This sense of bliss is unfamiliar to me. For many years, my reality felt more like a nightmare than a dream. I had resigned myself to thinking that life would always be hard, crying myself to sleep was normal, and happiness was for “other people.”

I memorized Psalm 30:5, “Weeping may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning,” though I doubted its application to me. When my morning was coming? Was it coming at all? The night seemed endlessly long and my weary tear-filled eyes could not see even a glimmer of light. For some, their weeping period was brief and contained, yet for others, the night stretched into years. And when the night is measured by decades, it’s hard to believe that morning will ever dawn.

When I found myself in a night that seemed to go on forever, I vacillated between faith & hopelessness, between peace & terror, between light & darkness. The blackness would often envelop me till I could scarcely breathe. Those days were filled with tears and my only release came with intermittent sleep. I would give into self-pity and wish that I had never been born. Job did that – I reasoned that I could too.

Other times I would try to ignore the pain, stuffing my feelings as deep as I could manage, stoically going on with my life. I squelched expectations of anything good happening – that way I couldn’t be disappointed. Those days were fueled only by duty. It was basically resignation, though it vaguely resembled contentment.

Some mornings I would grab my Bible and sit with God as long as I could. I would try to grab hold of Him and cry out, as Jacob did, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” I would journal about my pain, read the Bible, and sit in God’s presence. I would wait until I sensed a word from Him – usually spoken from the Scripture – and that word would carry me through the day.

And lastly, some days I was able to intentionally and deliberately choose to be joyful even when my heart was breaking. Even when life felt empty and hopeless. Even when my time with the Lord left me feeling alone and unchanged. On those days in particular, I forced myself to be thankful even for small things and to set my mind on the truth of what I knew about God rather than my feelings.

It was a constant battle, a continual fight for joy. A battle that I lost as often as I won. But what changed me wasn’t in losing or winning the battle, but rather in simply engaging the fight.

At the time, I didn’t see any of this. At the time all I could see was life disintegrating. At the time, I just wanted the pain to stop. It didn’t occur to me that anything good or noble or worthwhile was happening. But this learning to depend on God, to cry out to him, to find beauty in the everyday, was training my heart to see beyond my circumstances. And that sight continued long after the storm had passed.

Learning to dance in the rain did more for my soul than dancing in the sunshine ever could.

I am thrilled to be in the sunshine right now, but I am more grateful than ever for what I learned in the storm. For the sun seems to shine more brightly when it appears after the rain.

It is almost as though the rain gives the sunshine more meaning. The rain enabled me to appreciate to the sun. For without it, the sunshine would be expected and ordinary. It would go unnoticed. It is the contrast that makes the sun even more spectacular to me.

Knowing sorrow has magnified my joy.

Kahlil Gibran, a secular poet, says in his book The Prophet, “Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears. And how else can it be? The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.”

The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.

Sorrow is a profound gift.

Sorrow teaches me to see God and trust Him more. Sorrow helps me recognize and appreciate happiness and sunlight. And as Gibran astutely observes, sorrow increases my capacity for joy. Sorrow has made my joy deeper, richer, more vibrant than it ever would have been otherwise.

My joy is rooted in knowing that God has ordained all my days and circumstances. And He is using all of them to make me like Jesus. He will not let me suffer one minute longer than is needed to accomplish His good purposes.

One of those purposes has been to help me fully enjoy the present without fear. I know what a blessing it is when God brings happiness and sunshine into my life. I love days full of laughter and delight.

At the same time, I know there are treasures reserved for the darkness. Treasures that last not only for this life but also for the next. Treasures that are sweet and intensely personal. So when I return to the night, for a brief or an extended period of time, I know these treasures await me.

God has used both sunshine and darkness to shape me. They have taught me to be dependent on Him, for He is the one constant in an ever-changing world. My life cannot be rooted in anything else.

I love being married and adore my new husband, but he cannot fill my soul or give me everlasting joy.

Jesus is the only one that can do that, and always will be. In blazing sunshine or in torrential downpours, He is the one that satisfies my soul, gives me joy, and teaches me to dance in the rain.

 

 

 

photo courtesy of Jonathan Davidar
  • March 19, 2015 - 11:38 pm

    Deborah - Just beautiful, I’m so thankful for you, and for this current season He has given you and most of all that You know above all else that He is your source.ReplyCancel

    • March 20, 2015 - 9:21 am

      Vaneetha - Thank you, Deborah! I too am thankful that He is the source of my joy!ReplyCancel

  • March 20, 2015 - 8:39 am

    John - That was so tender and beautiful Vaneetha. You recommended in a previous post about choosing a word (or theme) for the year rather than a new years resolution. I have unwittingly been doing that for the past three years but now (after your post) with intention. This year I am thinking and meditating on contentment which I’ve found to be bound with joy. This post about sunshine in the rain resonates.

    Blessings (as so happy for you!)ReplyCancel

    • March 20, 2015 - 9:20 am

      Vaneetha - Thank you, John. What a blessing true contentment is- a blessing that can only be found in Jesus. He does bring joy- and brings it abundantly- when our trust is in Him!ReplyCancel

  • March 20, 2015 - 9:56 am

    Christina Musser - So happy for you and the joy that you have today! What beautiful words God has given you…ReplyCancel

  • March 20, 2015 - 10:46 am

    Georgia B. - I cried through this whole thing. What a perfect post to read on this first day of Spring. First… congratulations on your joyous marriage. It is so encouraging to read how God has blessed you and used even your sorrow to bring you to this point.

    As one who often, over the past several months, has felt as though life is disintegrating, seeing you use those very words in what you wrote here today struck a chord. It is a gentle reminder I so needed to read your words today… that sorrow is a gift. I do forget that… often. Thank you. And the Gibran quote. Wow. What a great perspective. I believe what he said… very much. When it feels like the grief carves too deep, I will remember that. I will look forward to the day when I’ll be able to contain that much more joy because of it.

    Again… many congratulations on your wedding and marriage.ReplyCancel

    • March 20, 2015 - 11:07 am

      Vaneetha - Thank you, Georgia. Your words are a blessing to me today too. Praying for you as life feels like its disintegrating, that He will show you some of the joy that awaits you.ReplyCancel

  • March 20, 2015 - 11:45 am

    Amy Ross - one of my favorite weddings ever!! Such a blessing to get to witness your love story!ReplyCancel

  • March 20, 2015 - 11:01 pm

    Ashleigh - Thank you so much for your raw honesty. I absolutely needed to hear this testimony today. It is so easy to believe that my joy will only be restored in heaven, and I fight constantly to hold onto hope that God will bring good from my suffering here on earth. I found your story & website through GriefShare. I too lost a son because of a heart condition that was supposed to be corrected with surgery. He was only 5 weeks old, and his first birthday is less than a month away. Thank you for helping me through the toughest time of my life. God is absolutely using your sorrow to help more people than you know. May He bless you and your husband with many happy years together! Congratulations to you!ReplyCancel

    • March 22, 2015 - 5:30 pm

      Vaneetha - So thankful this was helpful, Ashleigh. I’m so sorry about your precious son- I know all too well how painful birthdays and anniversaries can be… I am praying as I write that God will comfort you and carve joy into your soul over the next few weeks and months.ReplyCancel

  • March 22, 2015 - 9:58 pm

    Christina - Thank you for your honesty, Vaneetha. I am currently experiencing the night, but anticipating the joy that comes in the morning. It’s good to be encouraged that God really does see us, know us, and hear our cries. Keep clinging to him and congratulations on your marriage!ReplyCancel

    • March 23, 2015 - 10:37 am

      Vaneetha - Thank you for writing, Christina. Praying as I write this that your night will end soon and you will find great joy in the morning. But in the interim, I pray you’ll find His treasures for you in the darkness.ReplyCancel

  • March 31, 2015 - 2:33 am

    Sarah K - I linked to your blog from your DesiringGod “When God Does the Miracle We Didn’t Ask For” – my heart was already deeply stirred by what I read and then I read this post…thank you for sharing.

    I don’t even know what to say really. My heart is numb right now. My husband and I are currently experiencing our third first-trimester miscarriage. I am a Christian — I am also a cancer survivor, and a military wife, I also live with chronic pain and fatigue that’s been going on a few years now and every time I think I have accept and submitted to the struggles He has chosen not to take away, a new one is added. What you said about manna resonated in my heart/spirit deeply. I know I’m not the only one with trials, but at 29 years old most of my friends can’t seem to relate to my life. What you said about sorrow/weeping lasting through the night for a very prolonged time…really expressed the way I have felt for awhile now. I do realize that God has taught me so much about just knowing Him, depending on Him. So often we try to turn trials into an elementary lesson: “A trial + B experience = C lesson….and then you’re done”…I hear my Pastor talk about “going in and out of trials”…but our trials don’t seem to have an exit door right now. When you go through back-to-back trials or prolonged trials with unanswered questions (there’s no clear – ah, this is why He allowed us to lose 3 children) you realize that often His is choosing to glorify Himself and draw us to His side…and that’s it. That’s more than enough.ReplyCancel

    • March 31, 2015 - 6:27 pm

      Vaneetha - I’m so sorry for all the pain you’ve been through, Sarah. A third miscarriage must feel devastating, especially when added to all the other trials and there is no “exit door” in sight. I understand how hard it is when other people’s seasons of pain seem so brief and yours feels endless. But please don’t despair. God has not forgotten you and He loves you extravagantly. I don’t know how long your night will be, but I pray that as you wait, God will be your Comforter. And that your morning will dawn soon.ReplyCancel

  • January 29, 2016 - 12:41 am

    Su - SO happy for you Vaneetha (:

    I am praying for my son, who also has suffered greatly, that the Lord would bring him a ‘good wife’ very soon.It has been an endless night for him.
    God bless you and your husband very richly.ReplyCancel

Tweet|Share to Facebook|Subscribe